Wilmington On a BudgetWilmington is a port city in southeastern North Carolina. It's a great city to visit for it's nearby beaches, large historic district, and quaint atmosphere. The city has a population of about 115,000 and it's the eighth largest city in the state.
Wilmington is also home to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington as well as the EUE Screen Gems Studios. This is the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California. The studio, which opened in 1984, helped grow Wilmington into a major base for film and television production. The city has been the backdrop for many movies and tv shows including Iron Man 3, Sleepy Hollow, One Tree Hill, and Revolution.
SightsMany people use Wilmington as a base for exploring the nearby beaches. Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are all nearby. The beaches can get crowded during the summer months but they can be quite pleasant during the fall and spring.
Other attractions around town include several unique museums and historic sights such as Cape Fear Museum, Bellamy Mansion, and Burgwin-Wright House. A highlight of a trip to Wilmington is a visit to the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. The ship is open daily. It's moored in the river across from downtown Wilmington and has exhibits that highlight the history and stories of the ship.
Fort Fisher Aquarium is also worth a visit. It's a nice local aquarium that has both aquariums with fish and sea life as well as a large terrarium with reptiles including snakes and an albino alligator.
Other attractions in the area include Poplar Grove Plantation, Cape Fear Serpentarium, and Burchetta Glassblowing Studio & Gallery.
NeighborhoodsWilmington has a nice and impressive historic area. There are restaurants that line the river front and several nice shops a few blocks in. You can easily pass a few hours wandering around the town.
There are also three good beaches in the area. Wrightsville Beach has two piers, one with a restaurant and the other open to the public. Carolina Beach has a board walk that has an arcade, several restaurants, an ice cream shop, and a pier. Kure Beach is a slightly less crowded alternative to both Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach.
ActivitiesMany people spend at least some time on the beach while they're in Wilmington. The beaches can get crowded during the summer months and parking can be limited. Even so, it's worth relaxing for a few hours in the sun or taking a dip in the water.
Other activities in the area include kayaking, taking a ghost tour, or visiting a water park. Jungle Rapids offers a water park, arcade, and mini golf. It can be a fun destination for kids of all ages.
Airlie Gardens is a 67 acre garden that has southern charm, freshwater lakes, and a variety of plants. It's worth a visit and a nice place to explore.
Food and DiningWilmington has no shortage of restaurants. There are several great seafood restaurants in the downtown area, many with views of the river. There are also some good seafood restaurants around Wrightsville Beach. If you're looking for budget options, the university area has plenty of casual places to grab a quick bite. You can also grab ingredients at either Lowes Foods, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, or Walmart and prepare your own meal. It can be fun to pack a picnic lunch and take it to the beach. There are several international options available around town as well including Japanese, Mexican, and Italian.
TransportationMost people arrive in Wilmington by car. Wilmington International Airport is located northwest of the downtown area and is served by three airlines: Allegiant Air, Delta, and American Airlines.
Once you arrive in Wilmington you really must have access to a car. There is a local bus service that is provided by the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority. There are eight local routes through the city and New Hanover Country. Buses run every 30 minutes on weekdays. There's also a free trolley in the downtown area that runs every 10 minutes on weekdays. You can not rely on public transportation to make your way around Wilmington. If you don't have your own car, you must rent a vehicle. Avis, Hertz, National Car Rental, and Thrifty Rent-a-Car are all available.